10 things you need to know today: December 30, 2012

A pedestrian walks down Main Street in Greenfield, Mass., on Dec. 27 when an earlier storm hit the region before this weekend's snowfall.

The Week

1. OBAMA ACCUSES REPUBLICANS OF BLOCKING TAX COMPROMISE
In taped remarks for NBC’s Meet the Press, President Obama said that Republicans “have had trouble saying yes to a number of repeated offers” to avoid raising taxes on the middle class, adding that “now the pressure is on Congress to produce.” Unless lawmakers act by midnight on Monday, a set of tax increases and spending cuts will automatically be imposed on Jan. 1, which would affect virtually every taxpayer and government program. On Fox News Sunday, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said “hats off to the president,” because “he is going to get his tax rate increases” on wealthy Americans. Obama’s last offer to Republicans included keeping tax cuts for all Americans except those making more than $400,000. But Republicans were seeking more cuts to programs like Medicare and unemployment benefits, which has remained a point of contention in negotiations. [New York TimesBuzzFeed]
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2. INDIAN RAPE VICTIM’S BODY CREMATED IN NEW DELHI
A young Indian woman who died Saturday from the injuries she sustained from being gang-raped and battered on a New Delhi bus on Dec. 16 has been cremated. Her body had just been flown back to India from Singapore, where she had been transferred for treatment. The woman’s body was met at the airport by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi, head of the ruling Congress party, as officials have seen an outpouring of anger and grief by millions across the country demanding greater protection for women from sexual violence. Six suspects who were arrested for allegedly perpetrating the attack were charged with murder on Saturday. The men face the death penalty if convicted. [Associated Press]
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3. FOOT OF SNOW HITS PARTS OF NEW ENGLAND
A winter storm that began Saturday afternoon and ended early Sunday blanketed parts of New England with up to a foot of snow. Six to 12 inches of snow fell in Rhode Island, eastern Connecticut, and eastern Massachusetts. The storm spread over the Northeast and parts of Ohio just days after the regions was hit by another storm that moved in from the nation’s midsection. [Associated Press]
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4. SYRIAN ENVOY WARNS OF SURGE IN DEATHS
Lakdhar Brahimi, the international envoy to Syria, warned Sunday that as many as 100,000 Syrians could die in the next year if a solution to the country’s civil war is not found. Activists say that more than 40,000 people have been killed in the conflict, which began in March 2011. Over the past week Brahimi went to Damascus where he met President Bashar al-Assad then flew to Moscow, one of Syria’s closest international allies, where he discussed ways of ending the country’s crisis. “The situation in Syria is bad. Very, very bad,” Brahimi said after meeting Arab League chief Nabil Elaraby. “The situation is deteriorating.” [Associated Press]
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5. NYC SUBWAY SHOVER CHARGED WITH MURDER
New York City woman Erika Menendez, 31, was charged with murder as a hate crime for allegedly pushing Sunando Sen in front of a 7 train in Queens on Thursday. Sen was crushed to death by the oncoming train. Menendez told police that she has hated Hindus and Muslims since Sept. 11 and pushed Sen because she thought he was Muslim. Sen, 46, was from India but it is unclear whether he was either Hindu or Muslim. Menendez could face 25 years to life in prison if convicted. This was the second subway-pushing death this month, though such incidents are generally rare. [CBS News]
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6. FLU SEASON IN U.S. GETS EARLY START, COULD BE SEVERE
The flu season in the United States has made its earliest debut in a decade, say the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which could make this flu season severe. In early December, the CDC said it was noticing an uptick in flu activity about a month before authorities normally see it. But officials said the vaccine formulated for this year is well-matched to the strains of the virus seen so far and urged those who have not been vaccinated to get a flu shot. [Washington Post]
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7. GEORGE H.W. BUSH LEAVES INTENSIVE CARE
Former President George H.W. Bush was moved out of intensive care at The Methodist Hospital in Houston on Saturday. Bush was hospitalized Nov. 23 for treatment of a bronchitis-related cough. He was moved to intensive care on Dec. 23 after he developed a fever. Bush, 88, is the country’s oldest living former president. [Associated Press]
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8. 21 PAKISTANI TRIBAL POLICE FOUND SHOT TO DEATH
Officials have found the bodies of 21 Pakistani tribal policemen in the Jabai area of Peshawar. The men, who were believed to have been kidnapped by the Taliban, were found shot to death. The policemen disappeared on Thursday when militants attacked two posts in the region. Meanwhile, in southwest Pakistan, a suicide bomber driving a bus packed with explosives rammed into a bus carrying Shiite Muslim pilgrims, killing 19 people. Pakistan has experienced a spike in killings over the last year by radical Sunni Muslims targeting Shiites who they consider heretics. [Associated Press (2)]
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9. VIDEO CAPTURES DEADLY RUSSIAN PLANE CRASH
Amateur video of a Russian plane crash shows part of the passenger aircraft crashing into a highway, debris flying onto the road, before five people aboard were killed. The video shows a car swerving after the impact then straightening and continuing down the highway. Behind that car is the vehicle which had the camera, capturing the scene for just over 30 seconds. That driver dodged most of the debris and managed to pull over and stop. The plane, which is owned by the Russian airline Red Wings was carrying eight people, all of them crew members, when it careered off the runway Saturday while landing at Moscow’s Vnukovo Airport. The plane was traveling from the Czech Republic. [CBC News]
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10. BEYONCÉ TO BRING 100 FANS ONSTAGE DURING SUPER BOWL SHOW
As part of her new multimillion dollar partnership with Pepsi, singer Beyoncé has asked her fans to submit photos of themselves to be featured in a TV ad promoting her Super Bowl halftime show performance on Feb. 3. Of those who submit pictures by Jan. 19, 50 will be given a pair of tickets to join the singer onstage at the Superdome in New Orleans. [MTV]

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